California Teachers Association

October / November 2017

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Toward Equity in Science Helping the new standards reach and engage all students By Dina Martin s a longtime science teacher at Garey High School in Pomona, Antonio Gamboa knows the difficulties of pro- moting equity for girls, students of color and English learners in the sciences. He knows that many of them have been left behind for far too long. "ere has been a mindset over the years that students feel they can't do it, they can't learn it, and they can't cope with the challenges," says Gamboa, a member of Associated Pomona Teachers. "Many have issues with math, and by the time they get to science they are thinking, 'I'm here because I have to be.'" Recent statistics indicate that educators' lack of resources and time may also contribute to the achievement gap in sci- ence. According to Education Trust-West, an organization that advocates for educational justice: • Four in 10 elementary teachers in California say they spend less than one hour per week on science. • Only 10 percent of elementary students and 14 percent of middle schoolers regularly engage in "practices of science," which include hands-on instructions and labs, data analysis, and writing. • More than 70 percent of teachers report that limited funds for equipment and supplies are a major or moderate chal- lenge to science instruction. Nevertheless, recent studies point to a positive change that began several years ago with renewed emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. Results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress science exam clearly showed that girls and students of color in fourth and eighth grades are beginning to catch up in science achievement, although white, Asian and male students are out- performing their peers in the upper grades. TEACHERS EMBRACING THE NEW STANDARDS Science teachers like Gamboa are feeling a sense of urgency, but also optimism that equity can be achieved in science for 62 cta.org Teaching & Learning A

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